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Cooking with kids at half term

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Teaching kids about food and nutrition from an early age can help them form healthy eating habits that last a lifetime, says nutritionist Sarah Schenker. So why not plan some culinary 'edutainment' for your kids this half term?

In February, when outdoor activities are often restricted by cold and miserable weather, the half-term break provides an ideal chance to combine fun with learning in the kitchen.

Learning about different food groups and what's needed for a balanced diet is an essential part of developing healthy eating habits in childhood.
Children should be encouraged to become involved with food from an early age; including planning what to eat, shopping for ingredients, learning simple preparation skills and sharing food with others.
 
Most kids enjoy cooking, and even very young children can help with simple tasks like stirring, spreading and arranging food on plates.
 
Below are three simple recipes that work well with younger children, and a further three that should prove popular with older kids. 

Three recipes for younger kids

  1. Pizza
  2. Dips and dippers
  3. Fruit kebabs

Three recipes for older kids

  1. Cheese straws
  2. Crispy cakes
  3. Sponge drops

Pizza

Serves 6
 
Ingredients:

  • 1 large pizza base
  • 6 tablespoons of tomato pizza topping
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • Selection of vegetables (eg red and green peppers, mushrooms, courgettes)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of sweetcorn
  • 6 tablespoons of grated Mozzarella 

Method:
 
Adult: Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) or Gas Mark 6.
 
Adult and child: Slice the tomatoes and chop and slice the other vegetables.
 
Child: Spread the tomato paste over the pizza base. Sprinkle on the oregano and arrange their own choice of vegetables. Sprinkle on the Mozzarella and finish with slices of tomato.
 
Adult: Place in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes. Cut into 6 slices.

Dips and dippers

Serves 6
 
Ingredients:

  • 6 breadsticks
  • 2 celery sticks
  •  Half a red pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • Quarter of a cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons of houmous
  • 1 tablespoon of half-fat crème fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon of medium-fat soft cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato puree

Method:

Adult and child: Peel the carrot. Cut the carrot, celery sticks, red pepper and cucumber into 6cm-long strips.
 
Child: Arrange the vegetable strips and breadsticks on a plate. In a bowl, mix the crème fraiche with the cheese and tomato puree. Spoon the cheese mixture and houmous into separate ramekin dishes and serve with the dippers. 

Fruit kebabs

Makes 6
 
Ingredients:

  • Half a melon
  • 12 strawberries
  • 12 grapes
  • 3 kiwi fruits
  • 6 kebab sticks or thin straws

Method:

Adult and child:
Chop the melon into cubes. Remove the ends from the strawberries and slice in half. Peel the kiwi and chop into cubes.
 
Child: Thread the fruit onto the kebabs sticks. 

Cheese Straws

Makes 12
 
Ingredients:

  • 110g plain or wholemeal flour (or half and half)
  • 55g butter
  • 75g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 egg

Method:
 
Adult: Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) or Gas Mark 6. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
 
Child: Weigh out the flour and butter and cut the butter into small pieces using a knife.
 
Adult: Place the flour and butter into a food processor and mix together until it resembles breadcrumbs.
 
Child: Crack the egg into a bowl and beat with a fork. Add to the flour mixture with the cheese.

Adult: Continue to mix in the processor until a smooth dough is formed.
 
Child: Roll out the dough on a floured surface (about 1cm thick) and cut into straws. Place on the baking sheet.
 
Adult: Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes and then allow to cool on a cooling rack. 

Crispy cakes

Makes 12
 
Ingredients:

  • 225g milk chocolate
  • 50g raisins
  • 115g crisped rice

Method:
 
Child: Weigh out the chocolate and break into small pieces in a bowl.
 
Adult: Melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water.
 
Child: Weigh out the crisped rice and raisins, tip into the melted chocolate and stir well. Set out 12 paper cake cases and spoon the mixture into the cases. Place in the fridge to set. 

Sponge drops

Makes 10-12
 
Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1-2 teaspoons of icing sugar

Method:
 
Adult: Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) or Gas Mark 6. Lightly grease two baking trays.
 
Child: Measure out the sugar. Crack the egg into a mixing bowl and add the sugar.
 
Adult and child together: Hold an electric whisk and whisk the egg and sugar together until thick and creamy.
 
Child: Measure out the flour and sift into the egg mixture. Fold in using a metal spoon. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray.
 
Adult: Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling tray.
 
Child: Place the icing sugar in a sieve and sprinkle on top. 

Find out more about the child health care options available to your family. You can also discover more information in our Pregnancy and Childcare Centre or if you have a specific question, you can ask our experts.

 

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